High School Boys Basketball

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Laura Albanese

Laura Albanese, a Brooklyn native, graduated from Brooklyn College with a major in journalism and a minor in everything in 2007. She joined Newsday as an news-side intern on the Long Island desk that summer and became a part of High School sports department later that year. She has a varied journalistic background, having covered everything from the Brooklyn Supreme Court to girls gymnastics and back again for various outlets, including the Daily News. Her preference, though, remains baseball and soccer. She has yet to master not getting lost in Long Island while on the way to games.

Kerry Giovanniello lifts Bellmore-Merrick in final dual meet

Anna Schaubeck of Garden City twirls through the
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Anna Schaubeck of Garden City twirls through the air during the diving portion of Nassau girls swimming meet against Bellmore-Merrick at Nassau Aquatic Center on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014.(Credit: James Escher)

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Things go fast in Kerry Giovanniello's world.

One second she's hurling herself into the water as teammates chant her name and the next, she's breaching the surface, gasping for air and smiling all at once, and it's over. Her relay team's pursuit of a spot in the state tournament: over. The fight for Bellmore-Merrick's third straight conference title: over. The final dual meet she will ever swim with this team: over.

Giovanniello, an elite swimmer who previously recorded state qualifying times in the 50- and 200-yard freestyle events, led her Sharks (6-0) to a 3-minute, 40.23-second victory in the 400 freestyle relay in defeating Garden City, 99-85, in a battle of unbeatens in Conference I on Monday. The Trojans took second by a whisper with a state-cut time of 3:40.41.

"Being it's my last season, it was really emotional," Giovanniello said. "And that Kerry cheer . . . and getting first place and touching [Garden City] out, it's amazing. I couldn't have done it without my team."

Giovaniello also took first in the 50 freestyle in 24.69.

Other strong efforts helped Bellmore-Merrick to the dominant win: Paige Kaplan took first in the 200 individual medley (2:09.42) and the 100 butterfly (57.49), and Elizabeth Walsh, a ninth-grader, was second in the 100 butterfly in 59.51.

"She's a lot faster than me, so she pushes me to get my best time, every time," Walsh said of Kaplan, who had previously qualified for the state team in the butterfly and 200 freestyle.

Kaplan said that Walsh proved that Bellmore-Merrick will be "100 percent in good hands" when the 13 seniors graduate this year.

"It's mind-blowing that this is our final dual meet," Giovanniello said. "I can't believe we've all gotten this far, this fast."

You'd think she'd be used to it.

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Jack Hannigan, John Sihpol lead East Islip past Riverhead, 21-14

East Islip QB Jack Hannigan looks to pass
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East Islip QB Jack Hannigan looks to pass in a game against Riverhead on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014.(Credit: George A. Faella)

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East Islip's Jack Hannigan -- 5-7, 170 pounds -- stood near the 20-yard line, the lone roadblock standing in front of a lumbering Ethan Greenidge, 6-5, 320 pounds.

He braced for impact, and oh, did the impact come.

"It's crazy, he's a huge guy," Hannigan said laughing. "Then the whole team just piled on me and he got in. I was done. He was in the end zone."

The interception return was, perhaps, the only real blip in a satisfying day for Hannigan -- a 21-14 win over Riverhead in Suffolk II -- but it illustrated what coach Sal Ciampi called one of his quarterback's biggest weapons: "He is physically and mentally as tough as any player I've ever coached."

East Islip got on the board in their first series, when Hannigan hit Jake Piacenti on a corner route for a 25-yard score five minutes in. After both team sputtered a bit in the second quarter, John Sihpol picked off a pass on a third-and-5 and sparked East Islip's next scoring series, a six-play, a three-minute, 41 second drive that culminated on Justin Tavares' 5-yard TD run around left end on a reverse play with 1:29 left in the third. Hannigan's 1-yard dive made it 21-0 with 9:38 left.

That's when things got weird.

Ryun Moore broke through the scrum on the ensuing kickoff, deked David Tapley downfield and scored on a 99-yard return. Three plays later, Greenidge popped up from left tackle, snagged Hannigan's pass and charged down the field for a 37-yard score.

Riverhead (4-2) had a final chance to even it up, but a block in the back on their next possession cost them good field position, and Sihpol (eight tackles), causing massive damage at strong safety, picked off another pass to all but seal it.

"This is going to bring us right into the playoffs, beating a great team like this," Sihpol said -- especially considering Riverhead ousted East Islip in the Suffolk final last year.

Ciampi pointed out, though, that this isn't exactly the same team that fell to the Blue Waves last year. Hannigan was injured for most of the playoffs and, Ciampi said, he is the game-changer.

"He allows us to do more than anyone else," Ciampi said. "Physically, he takes a beating and mentally, he's had to deal with me for a couple years . . . if you can do that and have success, you're OK."

And if you can take on someone twice your size and laugh it off later? Well, that's a pretty good indication, too.

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